The meeting gathers the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR), Kasetsart University and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) with about 200 participants from many sectors in order to find solutions to reduce marine debris as well as raising awareness about the trash.

The Minister of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE), Gen Surasak Kanjanarat, who chaired the opening of the conference, said that marine trash has become a world issue and the UN has put marine natural resource to be Number 1 of the 17 tiers of sustainable development.

“Oceans worldwide are like a treasure that people take advantage of without feeling concerned about the consequences.”

“The big pieces of plastic trash such as trawls and fishnets are so harmful for the marine animals and to the coral reefs, it affects to the marine ecology system, scenery of the beaches, fisheries and tourism.”

“Meanwhile, micro plastic is has being found in the food chain of marine lives which gets though seafood chain to humans and affect human health in long term. This is why solving the marine debris is essential.”

He said that the conference is being held in the region as the countries in ASEAN are concerned about the problem.

“China just held a conference on Managing Marine Debris in the Asia Pacific region at the beginning of this month and Indonesia is preparing for a conference about marine debris as well.”

“From the study we found that, in Thailand, 80% of the trash in the sea come from the shore and only 20% of the trash come from marine activities. Getting rid of the trash from the source is the solution to the problem. For the past 3 years, the government has focused on eliminating the remaining 30 tons of trash but has to deal with 27 tons of new trash yearly.”

“Next year, Thailand will chair the 3Rs Forum gathering countries from the Asia Pacific region to discuss about natural and environment laws to create discipline for the citizens. The MNRE will also cooperate with individuals, the Federation of Thai Industries and the Plastic Institute of Thailand to push a plastic and plastic trash management plan focusing on using environmental friendly material such as bio-plastic, alternative materials and recyclable plastic. Also, we will cooperate with the drinking water industries to stop using cap seal as we found in 2016 that there were 2.6 billion cap seals ending up in the trash.”

“We have ordered that all national parks have to be free of plastic bags and since October we have kicked off the pilot project of a cigarette ban in 15 provinces along our coasts covering 24 beaches.”

In the past three years, PM General Prayut Chan-o-cha’s administration has placed importance on the issue of garbage. It is on the national agenda to dispose of 30 million tonnes in accumulated garbage and to handle the 27 million tonnes of trash produced annually.

Measures to do this include the promotion of the “3Rs” – reduce, reuse and recycle – and the use of “green” products. The ministry has joined with the private sector, including the Federation of Thai Industries and the Plastics Institute of Thailand, to push forward a plastic-waste management plan via the principles of environmentally friendly packaging, biodegradable plastic, recycled plastics and the use of alternatives. It has also joined with drinking water manufacturers to reduce the use of cap seals, he added.

Next year, Thailand will host the 3Rs Asia-Pacific Forum and would issue regulations to create discipline among citizens, he said.

Marine waste management remains a big issue for private organisations and governments. The UN has set a target for reducing sea garbage significantly by 2025. Thailand ranks sixth among countries with the highest volumes of litter in the sea, according to United States-based research published in 2015.

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